By Kirk Jackson
First and foremost this is going to be an action-packed fight. Both guys come from blood and seem to enjoy the idea of abandoning defense. The intriguing factor in this fight is the question in regards to Manny Pacquiao’s chin.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
How much does he have in the tank and will the power and pressure of Brandon Rios cause the congressman from the Philippines to wilt under the pressure? As great as Pacquiao is, he does tend to get hit a lot. Those are selling points to this fight. That and the possibility of Pacquiao facing Floyd Mayweather somewhere down the line if he is able to get past Rios.
There is a reason why Pacquiao and his team chose to fight Brandon Rios. And let’s be clear, Rios is a good fighter, a former world champion, but this is the same kind of match-making we have seen in recent years when it comes to Pacquiao.
As reported by Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times back when the fight was made earlier this year, this was the reasoning for the fight according to Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum.
“We felt with Rios, based on his past of being an ‘active’ competitor would make this a great fight against Manny,” Arum said. “It’s a fight people want to see. Most boxing fans want to see guys mix it up.”
Arum continued, “There’s a school of fan who want to see artistic fights with fighters like Floyd Mayweather and Guillermo Rigondeaux, but we felt they also want to see a knock-down, drag-out action fight, and that’s what we’re going to give them.”
Most of the public may be deceived by the clever match-making and media hype surrounding his fights, but this is essentially a fight to make Pacquiao look good. Put him in the ring with a guy who is seen by many observers as a brawler, make the fight exciting, allow Pacquiao to look amazing. This is a showcase fight.
Rios has a record of 31-1-1 (23 KO’s). He spent the majority of his career at lightweight, has two fights at junior welterweight, and both those fights were against Mike Alvarado, and this is his first fight at welterweight. He is also coming off if a loss.
Pacquiao has a record of 54-5-2 (38 KO’s). In recent years, Pacquiao has campaigned around the welterweight division. Since 2008, Pacquiao has nine fights above the lightweight division.
The size advantage will probably not work in Rios’ favor.
In order to be effective against Manny Pacquiao, the opposing fighter has to be a skilled technical boxer, who possesses good lateral movement and the ability to counter-punch. Prime examples would be a younger Juan Manuel Marquez or a Floyd Mayweather styled fighter.
A flat-footed, stationary fighter, will play in to Manny’s hands. He is too good for that. A prime example of that style of fighter would be Antonio Margarito.
And with that style of fighter, as Pacquiao displayed when he destroyed Margarito back in 2010, he will move around side to side, let off his combinations and not allow the opponent to get set and fire punches back.
Rios draws comparisons to Margarito, albeit Rios is more skilled, a tad bit faster with his hand speed and is the younger, fresher fighter entering the fight.
What works in Pacquiao’s favor is Rios is one of those guys who just loves to fight. Although his activity level is probably his greatest strength, he is prideful, does not mind taking a punch and will take three or four punches to the grill in order to deliver a single punch. That formula against Manny Pacquiao may be a recipe for disaster.
Stylistically on paper, this looks like a match-up that should work in Pacquiao’s favor. Rios comes forward with somewhat of a reckless abandon or disregard of defense, which creates exciting fights. But this leaves him vulnerable for the power punching for Pacquiao.
Brandon Rios is afraid of nobody and will bring the fight from the opening bell and will cause ruckus as long as the fight lasts. He does have a puncher’s chance, but this is Pacquiao’s fight to lose and the betting odds reflect that. On the betting line, it’s a -450 wager on Manny (wager $45 to profit $10) and Rios is a +325.
Styles make fights, this is the fight for Pacquiao and he is the golden goose for Top Rank Promotions. If he wins as expected by many, he will be probably be pitted in a fifth fight with rival Juan Manuel Marquez is a huge boxing blockbuster for Top Rank and HBO.
Top Rank could also match Rios with Mike Alvarado for a third time